Sometimes even the most well-intentioned car launches go horribly wrong. Think back to the 1990 Pontiac Transport, which quickly acquired the moniker "dust buster," and the 2007 Chrysler Sebring, considered a failed attempt to reinvigorate the brand.
Even today, with so much innovation in styling and technology, some vehicles fall short. The roster of new cars unveiled at the North American International Auto Show was no exception.
Not that there were a plethora of failures; if anything, there were no obvious duds. Matt Degen, senior editor with Kelley Blue Book, walked away being more optimistic than he expected, for example. But he said one disappointment was that the vehicles consumers really are craving, SUVs and crossovers, were in short supply, dwarfed by product reveals of glitzy luxury vehicles well outside the budget of many consumers.
"This is Detroit, home of the Big Three that make popular trucks, yet we're not seeing a whole lot of trucks or crossovers at this show," he said.
Volkswagen disappointed some car lovers in another way. While most carmakers had good reason to celebrate 2015 results, the embattled German car giant was still dealing with the aftereffects of its falsification of emissions data — a scandal that has tarnished its reputation. "We know we have let down our customers and dealers," Volkswagen Chair Herbert Diess said. "I am truly sorry for that."
But in an interview with NPR, CEO Matthias Mueller seemed to downplay the scandal, saying that the company has misinterpreted U.S. law and didn’t lie to environmental regulators when asked about differences between emissions in tests as compared to real-world driving. The company had earlier admitted to cheating on the emissions tests. The company asked for a follow-up interview, in which Mueller apologized, but the whole string of events may have left VW’s apology tour as the biggest disappointment of the show.
Public relations fiascos aside, here are some vehicles unveiled during the press preview that didn't quite meet expectations: The 5 Worst Cars at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show